Garrett Camp, Uber cofounder and CEO of Expa Studios, is today unveiling Expa’s latest project, Haus. Haus is the studio’s first real estate play and focuses entirely on the buying and selling of residential property, digitizing and organizing offers from buyers so that all parties (the buyer, seller, and agents) have more transparency and immediacy through the negotiation process.
There are plenty of startups out there that concentrate on discovery of properties, Camp said. But the issue that hasn’t really been touched by technology is that of making and accepting official offers.
Haus digitizes that entire experience, letting sellers put their listing on the platform, where buyers and their agents can both post their offers, amend them, and see an anonymized version of other offers that have been made on the property.
As it stands now, real estate brokers are shuttling offers to sellers’ agents via fax, email, or simply in-person. On the other side, sellers’ agents are trying to properly compile multiple offers in spreadsheets, in an email, or with pen and paper.
This might seem simple — write down all the best offers and pick the highest number, right? But there are a number of factors within a single offer beyond the actual overall price, including the financial security of the buyer, extra terms of the deal, amount of cash up-front, and more.
The real estate industry isn’t necessarily known for its transparency. While sellers’ agents are required to show them every offer on the table, buyers have little access to the actual movement on a particular listing.
Haus aims to clear up that opacity by showing each offer, with its unique nuances, to both the seller and the other interested buyers.[gallery ids="1360487,1360488,1360489"]
But this type of transparency is not without its potential downsides.
When a seller receives a few good offers on a home, the sellers agent will ask for best and last offer by noon tomorrow, for example. If buyers were able to see the terms of all the other offers, as they would when using Haus, then this could drive the price of the home up as buyers enter into a bidding war. Not to mention, unethical sellers or agents could artificially inflate the price of a home through shill bidding, as an offer is not legally binding.
While Haus helps sellers measure the demand on their property, it might also drive away potential buyers who don’t want to get in a bidding war over an already-expensive purchase. Or, on the other side, this might short a seller who would have received a much higher best and final bid from a buyer, but saw that offer drop to barely beat the next-best offer.
“We think the openness will create a more efficient market and that the number of offers and price will ultimately be dependent on demand,” said Haus GM Sarah Ham. “Bidding wars are a common, almost accepted, part of the real estate process today. But with our approach, buyers know where they stand. Buyers will know what they need to offer to make their offer competitive, but they also won’t negotiate against themselves.”
There may also be some concern over this replacing agents entirely, though Camp sees this as a complement to what brokers offer their clients, offering efficiency in the part of the process (compiling offers) that can be slow and time-consuming. Plus, most folks still need a broker’s expertise when it comes to marketing the home, finding a home, understanding the true value of a property, and of course, drafting up the paperwork.
While there may be some question over the transparency angle, Haus certainly offers way more efficiency when it comes to compiling and presenting offers to the buyer. Camp likens it to the town car industry of the past, which (as you might already know) was blown up by Camp’s previous startup, a little company called Uber.
“Collecting offers and presenting them is a very manual process, the way that town car companies would pick up a phone, write the fare on the board, and send the next available driver to that location,” said Camp. “It just seems much more efficient for agents to use a platform to coordinate all of this information automatically.”
Haus isn’t currently charging anything, but eventually they’ll pull from the broker fee once the company understands how it can generate extra business for realtors by saving them time during the negotiation process.
You can check out Haus for yourself right here.